A knowledge base is a shared resource that’s created and maintained by multiple people. The two key processes involved in creating a knowledge base are capturing knowledge and sharing it.
In an IT service desk environment, the IT service desk workers build and maintain the knowledge base, and it can be a real asset to a company’s IT service management program. A great knowledge base helps expedite training of new service desk workers and helps current workers find quick and consistent solutions to end-user problems.
A 2012 survey by Coleman Parkes found that up to half of all “How do I …?”-type calls can be deflected to self-service channels — like a knowledge base — if that knowledge base is current and easy to use. Furthermore, a Fleishman-Hillard study found that nearly 90% of consumers go to websites, Google, and other searchable entities to find information they need before ever contacting a human help resource. So end users are willing to use good resources where they exist.
If your IT service desk is considering implementing a knowledge base, it’s good to keep these 5 best practices in mind.
1. Get Management on Board from the Start
The success of a knowledge base depends on a corporate culture that embraces accountability. When you get managers and executives on board from the beginning, not only will you have an easier time justifying the resources needed to build the knowledge base, you’ll have an easier time impressing them when the knowledge base leads to better efficiency, time savings, and monetary savings.
2. Structure the Knowledge Base by Topic, Not Organization
Your knowledge base should be designed to connect dots across all organizational boundaries. When you structure a knowledge base on organization, that knowledge gets siloed, and while you might help people in specific organizations with specific problems, you won’t help nearly as many people as you would if you organized the knowledge base by topic. Plus, if a knowledge base is structured by organization, you’re bound to get a few people who are overly protective and possessive of “their” particular knowledge silo.
3. Encourage Extensive Linking
Cross-linking is extremely important in making the most of your knowledge base. Encourage knowledge-base creators to add links to any term that could be unclear, or that has a different meaning in the IT world than it does in to everyone else. Cross-linking helps users of your knowledge base clarify their understanding of problems and better understand how to address them.
4. Make Knowledge Base Updates a Natural Part of Workflow
The knowledge base shouldn’t be a project that’s set aside for people to work on when they get the time. They never will. Your IT service desk workers should have the ability to update the knowledge base in real time, making new solutions available immediately to everyone. Ideally, you should use IT service desk software that incorporates construction of a knowledge base from real problems and solutions.
5. Monitor and Track Knowledge Base Performance
Analyzing the end user experience is important in making the most of your knowledge base. You need to ensure that people know about it and aren’t afraid of using it. Encourage end users to access the knowledge base, and remind them they can still submit a help desk ticket if they can’t find a solution on their own. Keep track of how often the knowledge base is accessed, how many tickets are resolved on the first attempt by IT service desk workers (who may be using the knowledge base themselves), and if any particular types of calls aren’t benefitting from the knowledge base so you can make necessary changes.
About Nathan Riley
Nathan Riley is a Sales Director, ITSM at SolarWinds. He has nine years experience in the industry, and has had a front row seat for the evolution of service management as a platform for the entire organization. He helps organizations ranging from SMB to Fortune 500 bring customized service to employees. Nathan proudly served the United States Armed Forces in the United States Marine Corps.
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